New Zealand building consents issued dwindled in November as the number of approvals in the South Island almost halved from a year earlier.

The number of new dwellings approved, excluding volatile apartment consents, fell a seasonally adjusted 2.5 per cent to 1,095 in November compared to the same month a year earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. Including apartments, the number of issuances fell 6.4 per cent to 1,187.

The decline was led by an 18 per cent fall in South Island issuance to 419 new dwellings approved, and a 35 per cent drop in consents issued in Wellington to 88. Auckland approvals continued to rise, up 19 per cent to 430 in November.

"Overall consent issuance remains very low and points to ongoing weakness in construction activity over the start of 2012," said Jane Turner, economist at ASB. "We expect underlying demand for housing construction to pick up, reflecting the current tightness in the housing market (particularly in Auckland)."


The country's biggest city has been a beacon for the property market, with improving demand for new housing. The number of house sales climbed 17 per cent in November according to Real Estate Institute data, with buyers shrugging off the malaise that set in through most of 2011 and much of 2010.

The actual number of new dwellings approved has dropped 15 per cent to 1,384 in the 12 months ended November 30, and is down 17 per cent to 1,275 if apartments are stripped out.

"Although housing trend numbers continue to rise, seasonally adjusted figures are still volatile," industry and labour statistics manager Louise Holmes-Oliver said in a statement. "Figures dipped in November, the third change in direction in as many months."

The value of non-residential building consents sank 14 per cent to $415 million in November compared to the same month a year earlier, led by a 65 per cent fall in issuances for new factories and industrial buildings to $36 million. That's down an annual 7.4 per cent to $8.48 billion from a year earlier.

The value of total authorisations approved fell 7 per cent to $954 million in the month of November, and is down 11 per cent to $8.83 billion on an annual basis.